Supreme Court Strikes Down Abortion Clinic Buffer Zone Law

It was a unanimous decision to strike down the Mass. law ordering protesters to say 35-feet away from clinics

The U.S. Supreme Court spoke loudly and unanimously, and, according to Phil Moran - the attorney who represented the plantiffs - made the right decision to do away with the 35-foot buffer zone in front of abortion clinics in Massachusetts.

When asked for his reaction because there are going to be a lot of people that say this takes away protections from women, Moran said, "I don't think so. There are plenty of laws on the books right now that protect women, that protect men, that protect everybody and they just don't enforce them. They just don't use them."

"Safety and security has been our concern before the buffer zone law was in place and it is our top priority today," said Planned Parenthood of Massachusetts CEO Marty Walz, who fought to get the buffer zone created when in the legislature in 2007 as a way to shield women from protesters and from violence, such as the killings of two women in Brookline outside of clinics in 1994.

One of then was Shannon Lowney, who worked at Planned Parenthood.

"One of the biggest losses this day and the reason I am here, was her voice towards this mission," her brother Liam Lowney said.

While the Supreme Court ruled this was an unconstitutional restraint on free speech, Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley argued that's not at the heart of the issue.

"There are countervailing and other rights of women trying to get in, and the reason we crafted this and the history that we gave to the court is those rights have been consistently violated," she said.

Phil Moran and Eleanor McCullen, the lead plaintiff, know there is another legal battle to be waged, but they say this ruling breaks down the barrier of helping women make a choice.

"It's a unique moment at a unique time in this woman's life and she's making a very, very important decision which she may regret late. And the plaintiffs offer these people an opportunity to perhaps look at an alternative," Moran said.

The buffer law that was in effect from 2000 to 2007 in Massachusetts and was upheld by the Supreme Court in other instances, was a floating 6-foot zone that prevents protesters from violating a woman's space.

Senate President Therese Murray expects the legislature to act by the end of the session in July.

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